Sunday, October 15, 2017

Lawmakers Say The ATF Should Regulate Bump Stocks. It's Not That Simple

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In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting where almost 60 people were shot dead, lawmakers are pushing to regulate bump stocks that are used on semi-automatic guns to make it so that it fires like a fully-automatic one. This is because the shooter, Stephen Paddock, used bump stocks in his guns to shoot at a crowd of innocent people enjoying a concert from his hotel room in. Current law states that bump stocks are legal because it does not technically make a semi-automatic gun a machine gun, since it still releases one bullet with one pull of the trigger, even at the accelerated shooting rate. Many gun advocates are saying that bump stocks do not cross into the territory of making a gun a machine gun and that it is under the protection of the Second Amendment. However, lawmakers have introduced a bill would make it illegal to buy, sell, or possess accessories or devices that would make a semi-automatic fire more rapidly. In my personal opinion, I would like to see a ban on bump stocks because there really is no use for bump stocks in recreational or defensive gun use. What do you think? Do devices that make guns fire more rapidly lie under the protection of the Second Amendment? Should bump stocks be banned?

Bombing In Somalia Kills Hundreds; Death Toll Expected To Rise

Personally, I agree with President Farmaajo on how we should "unite against terror," but I also don't exactly know if the "renewed offensive" against extremist groups from the government will better the situation. I feel like this offensive would just prolong the conflict, and that we should consider increasing security and promoting nonviolence, like how Martin Luther King Jr. peacefully protested during the U.S. civil rights movement, but I recognize that it's difficult to judge whether national security is worth it when it comes at the cost of individual rights, which is an issue that still persists today, especially after 9/11 and the Patriot Act controversy over its allowance of government surveillance. While this attack didn't occur in America itself, I believe that we should still be concerned about how to combat terrorism. What do you think? How should we deal with terrorism? What kinds of security measures should be allowed, and which ones infringe on our privacy?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Wildfires Devastate Northern California Counties

        Northern California, specifically the Sonoma, Napa and Yuba counties are currently being hit with a massive wildfire. There has been a total of 15 separate fires, which have covered a total of 212,000 acres collectively.  33 people have already been confirmed dead, as well as hundreds of people being reported missing. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for the three counties that are being the most effected. We even see the effects of the wildfire in San Mateo county, with unhealthy air quality. This is a clear sign of one of the effects of global warming. 2017 has been one of the hottest years on record, and the hot, dry conditions are the reason such a big fire can break out. My question to you is, do you think this recent wildfire is substantial evidence that climate change is a real thing, and will persuade people who say otherwise? What are some direct steps do you think we can take to reduce the chance of this happening again?


Sunday, October 8, 2017

Young Worker Clocked 159 Hours of Overtime in a Month. Then She Died.

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In July 2013, Miwa Sado, a Japanese journalist, died as a result of working 159 overtime hours in one month. In Japan, there is a word for incidences like these: karoshi. Sado's death is not an isolated incident; it is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 karoshi-related deaths in Japan each year. Karoshi is not limited to Japan, however. We live in a society that values and rewards hard work.  As high school students, we are encouraged to take AP classes, play sports, join clubs, do community service, and much more. People who "do more" are considered more successful. But is this cultural mindset the right one? Is the person who works the hardest the best off? Based on the alarming frequency of karoshi, it isn't. The question is, how much work is too much? Where should the line be drawn? At what point does a healthy, productive life turn into a death trap?

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2017

Only 71 years ago, the UN General assembly made it's first decision towards the removal of nuclear weapons. It's incredible how the issue of nuclear weapons continue to this day, after some inclines and declines in severity. Nuclear weapons are a constant danger to life on Earth.  They are one of the most powerful and dangerous. They are especially relevant in the present, as the issues with North Korea continue. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is an organization working towards achieving treaty-based prohibition of nuclear weapons called the Humanitarian Pledge, which 108 states have already signed. Make sure to read in depth everything this organization has and has not done. Although it has not yet accomplished an international ban, the NNC (Norwegian Noble Committee) says that it awards the prize to promote the spread of Nuclear-free states and countries. Although I am not a specialist in various organizations, I think that the prize was very relevantly awarded to the ICAN: it is a committee that has promoted the removal of nuclear weapons and strives for the safety of mankind, especially since it is a prevalent issue today.  Do you believe that ICAN deserves the Noble Peace Prize? Are there any other organizations you can identify as potential nominees? Can you think of any other connections in the past/present that are related to this event? Let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Elon Musk issues a stark warning about A.I., calls it a bigger threat than North Korea

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, OpenAI, and SpaceX, stated that artificial intelligence can be very dangerous, even more so than North Korea's threats to bomb the US. Ironically, this happened after OpenAI's machines won an esport competition against professional gamers. Musk advocates for regulations for AI, otherwise the machines will take over. If AI development moves faster than regulations are made for them, then many ethical and economic issues will accumulate quickly within the next few years in the industry. I believe that regulations are very important in allowing the transition to a more technological world. This is similar to the industrial revolution, where the creation of new machinery greatly changed the economic conditions. New machines allowed production to become much faster and efficient. However, it also created tension as some feared that their jobs would be replaced by the machines. What do you think about the current status of artificial intelligence? Do you think anything should be done to regulate technological advances?

Monday, October 2, 2017

'I cannot express how wrong I was': Country guitarist changes mind on gun control after Vegas

On Sunday night at approximately 10 p.m. a man identified as Stephen Paddock shot into the crowd at a country music festival, killing over 50, and injuring over 250.  Soon after, Stephen Paddock went on to kill him self. Due to this being one of the worst mass shootings in our nation's history, many find themselves questioning their opinions on gun control. This is the case for Caleb Keeter, member of the Josh Abbott Band. Keeter who witnessed the shooting in person took to social media in order to voice his opinion and change of heart. I personally feel torn at the moment, because I have always been a huge supporter of the 2nd ammendment, but when something as horrific as this happens, it makes you wonder how someone could have that many guns in his hotel room, waiting to be used on 100s of innocent people. We've seen horrible mass shootings in the past, such as the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in 2012, and the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, but these shooting unfortunately continue to happen. My question to you is, does this mass shooting change your opinion on gun control and if so how?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

A Transgender Minister's Road to Acceptance

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It takes a lot of courage for someone to come out as transgender, even more so, for the minister of a Presbyterian church. For Petra Strand, I can only imagine the fear and anxiety she had opening up to her church, especially since most churches originally did not favor accepting the different sexualities besides those who identify as heterosexual. In addition to undergoing the process of hormone replacement therapy, Petra was also going through the process of being ordained as a priest for the church. As she was going through her transformation, she relied on her faith to guide her. It is great to see people are comfortable with their faith and society has become more accepting of all people in order to be inclusive. More and more religious leaders have been coming out as transgender, like Christians and the Jewish. How does this make an impact on today's society? I believe that society should have a place for everyone no matter what they identify with, and with more people coming out, an increasing number of people in society are learning to accept themselves in their own skin.  What do you think? What can we take away from Petra's story?

Puerto Rico is all our worst fears about Trump coming real

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Since Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, the island has entered a state of complete disarray. The current situation on the island is a grave humanitarian crisis, fomented, in part, by the inactivity and disassociation the Trump administration has displayed over the past weeks. Trump's irresponsible handling of the fiasco is troubling enough, but moreover, it seems that once again the White House's policy is being driven by racial bias, and an odd case of xenophobia (since it seems from the President's remarks that he considers Puerto Rico to be a foreign entity, though he must know it is a US territory). This is a subject near and dear to the antebellum period which we are currently studying, seeing as an influx in immigration to America lead to a surge in nativist movements. Give your opinion on the management of Puerto Rico crisis and what should/might come of the disaster we are witnessing (think repercussions). Also, describe what decisions were affected by these qualities of the administration and what steps could be taken to mitigate future humanitarian crises under the present leadership circumstances.

Five hurt as Edmonton attacks spark terror investigation

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5 people have been hurt in Edmonton, as has been claimed as act of terrorism. A man had used a white Chevrolet Malibu and U-Haul truck to deliberately hit police officers and pedestrians. After he escaped to Chevrolet an ISIS flag was found in the car. The man was then chased as he attempted to hit pedestrians in the U-Haul. He was then caught and identified, as they soon learned how he was Somali national and refugee and was already known to the Edmonton police. In my opinion, I see this act of terrorism as one of the many to come and fear for the rest of the world.  This is because of another event in the Saint-Charles train station in Marseille, France. Where an man stabbed two women. ISIS has identified the man on social media, as a solider. These two events were both people connected to ISIS and within a day of each other. What do you think about these recent attacks? Do see these attacks as a big threat to our world?

Link to stabbing in the Saint-Charles train station in Marseille, France

Trump to Tillerson: N Korea negotiations a waste of time

Image via Twitter

Donald Trump recently took to twitter openly criticizing Kim Jong Un, referring to him as "Little Rocket Man." Rex Tillerson, The United States Secretary of State, attempted to talk to Un about the dispute between the two countries. Trump claimed he was "wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man..." completely contradicting Tillerson. He not only mocks Un, but threatens him as well claiming, "we'll do what has to be done!" Personally, I don't think this was the smartest of decisions considering how North Korea is known for having mass amounts of nuclear weapons. This situation also brings up another issue. If Donald Trump has an issue with Rex Tillerson or any official for that matter, he should not publically tweet about it and give out private information that could be seen as a threat. Instead he should go to them personally to try and resolve the issue. Rex Tillerson should be able to do his job without the President contradicting him. It's what he gets paid to do and he should be able to do his job freely. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Catalan referendum: Voters mass as showdown looms

     The eminent Catalan referendum, along with the similar 2014 referendum, are the result of a century-long independence and cultural revivalist movement originating as resistance to the intense cultural suppression of Francisco Franco, dictator of Spain from 1939 to 1975. The region, marked by its distinct cultural, linguistic, and geographic differences from the rest of Spain, is deeply divided by independence. Whatever the populace may believe in, the Spanish federal court has declared the upcoming referendum in Oct. 1, like its 2014 predecessor, to be unconstitutional. In the present, Spanish police have seized voting supplies, while protesters on the other side have been occupying schools to protect voting areas and holding mass demonstrations. Police have been ordered to non-violently stop the voting process, and protesters have urged voters to resist non-violently, but a conflict between the two groups seems very probable. How much does Catalan's justification for independence mirror the conditions of colonial america - is this a case of cultural superiority or a genuine threat to life, liberty and property? Should the constitution of the Spanish monarchy be upheld over Wilson's theory of self-determination and other justifications for independence? Considering the divisiveness within Catalan itself on the issue, what percentage of "Yes" and voter turnout would make the results legitimate? What can be done on both sides to mitigate violence on voting day? I believe that whatever the justification, if there is great consensus among Catalonians, Spain should respect their right to self-determination, and in anticipating this possibility they should withdraw police deployed from the area to avoid conflict. What do you think?